Believers congregate at Pattaya temples for Asalaha Bucha and Khao Phansa

0
1803

On two of the four holiest days of the year, area Buddhists followed custom by gathering at temples across Pattaya.

On two of the four holiest days of the year, area Buddhists followed custom by gathering at temples across Pattaya. Shown here, tourists flock to picturesque Big Buddha Hill in South Pattaya for Asalaha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa last week.
On two of the four holiest days of the year, area Buddhists followed custom by gathering at temples across Pattaya. Shown here, tourists flock to picturesque Big Buddha Hill in South Pattaya for Asalaha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa last week.

It was busy all over Pattaya, as Asalaha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa fell on a Tuesday and Wednesday, giving some lucky folks up to five days off. Bars were closed and alcohol could not be sold during the Buddhists holidays, but the area remained lively, with most of the action turning from Walking Street to walking around temples.

Candle processions were held at most temples, including Big Buddha Hill, where thousands of people came to make merit. Thais and foreigners alike carefully followed the line around the great Buddha image. After the procession, they lit candles, prayed and asked for a better and prosperous life.

Pattaya Tourist Police Commander Pol. Maj. Piyapong Ensarn led a delegation of officers to Chaimongkol Temple to donate robes, candles and other necessities before treating monks to a morning meal.
Pattaya Tourist Police Commander Pol. Maj. Piyapong Ensarn led a delegation of officers to Chaimongkol Temple to donate robes, candles and other necessities before treating monks to a morning meal.

At Chaimongkol Temple, the “wien tien” ceremony capped a day of activity on Asalaha Bucha, which began with the “tak baht” ceremony to offer alms and daily necessities to monks.

The majority of the offered items were actually neon light bulbs, which have come to replace candles handed out in olden times.

Finally, after nightfall, candles were lit as people marched around the temple grounds for the wien tien.

Temple monks lead the wien tien procession for Asalaha Bucha Day.
Temple monks lead the wien tien procession for Asalaha Bucha Day.

With such a large crowd in town, police were even busier, not only dealing with nightmarish traffic, but patrolling to keep tourists safe from scammers and thieves.

Yet the Pattaya Tourist Police took time out to make merit on the holy days. Commander Pol. Maj. Piyapong Ensarn led a delegation of officers to Chaimongkol Temple to donate robes, candles and other necessities before treating monks to a morning meal.

Buddhists make merit inside Wat Chaimongkol in South Pattaya.
Buddhists make merit inside Wat Chaimongkol in South Pattaya.

Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens, as usual, put its own spin on the holidays, staging a candle parade for Khao Phansa, the start of Buddhist Lent, featuring elephants.

Massive carved, fully decorated candles ushered around the grounds of the Najomtien Sub-district garden to showcase the tradition of Thailand.

Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens outdid themselves again this year with their huge candle.
Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens outdid themselves again this year with their huge candle.

The candles featured the legendary “payanak” serpent and “ensee” eagle, both representing mythical figures worshipped by Thais in ancient times. The parade also featured traditional dances from all four regions of the kingdom.

The candle parade proved a huge success as it attracted thousands of tourists. The objective of the event was to raise the awareness of visitors that Thailand has a strong religious following and how important it is to Thai culture.

Devout Buddhists make merit by helping to make candles for the beginning of Buddhism’s version of Lent.
Devout Buddhists make merit by helping to make candles for the beginning of Buddhism’s version of Lent.
Families study Buddha’s footprint at the top of Big Buddha Hill in South Pattaya.
Families study Buddha’s footprint at the top of Big Buddha Hill in South Pattaya.
Some families donate light bulbs to their temple instead of candles.
Some families donate light bulbs to their temple instead of candles.
Tak Baht activities took place in the morning.
Tak Baht activities took place in the morning.
Thailand’s temples always look ornate, but are especially beautiful during Buddhist holidays.
Thailand’s temples always look ornate, but are especially beautiful during Buddhist holidays.
It’s a good evening to show one’s faith.
It’s a good evening to show one’s faith.
Buddhists light candles and incense to make merit at Wat Chaimongkol in South Pattaya.
Buddhists light candles and incense to make merit at Wat Chaimongkol in South Pattaya.
Bars were quiet during the Buddhist holy days.
Bars were quiet during the Buddhist holy days.

1200-f1Buddhist12

1200-f1Buddhist13

1200-f1Buddhist17

1200-f1Buddhist9

1200-f1Buddhist3